Each year, I usually get about three to five visitors to my home in Washington, DC. A few weeks ago, my aunt and her family came to visit, so I offered to take them on a tour of our city.
I’ve always appreciated the beauty of DC, and perhaps taken it for granted. However, spending the week with my two cousins gave me a fresh set of eyes with which to view this magnificent city. Their enthusiasm was infectious as they learned and absorbed as much as they could during their one week stay. I enjoyed discovering a new perspective on all the beautiful monuments and beautiful buildings that I had seen hundreds of times before.
I thought, how wonderful to be able to share my top ten spots and beautiful photos of our city with you! There are so many more but we could start with these top ten:
|The White House*: The White House has been known as the “President’s Palace,” the “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion.” President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its present name in 1901. If you would like to visit the White House, make sure you submit your request six months prior to your vacation for the White House tour.|
|Library of Congress: The Library of Congress is known as one of the largest libraries in the world: with 29 million catalogued books and other printed materials in 470 languages. The original library was set up in the new Capitol until August 1814, when invading British troops set fire to the Capitol Building, burning the contents of the small library. In January 1815, Congress accepted Thomas Jefferson’s offer, allotting $23,950 for his 6,487 books, and the foundation was laid for a rich national library. The first separate Library of Congress Building, known today as the Thomas Jefferson Building, was commissioned in 1886, and finally finished in 1897.|
|National Archives: The National Archives and Records Administration stores and administers public access to the original documents that set up the American government as a democracy in 1774. The centerpiece in the rotunda is the original signed Declaration of Independence. The original has faded badly, largely due to poor preservation techniques during the 19th century. Today, this priceless document is maintained under the most exacting archival condition possible. The titanium and aluminum encasement is bullet resistant, filled with argon gas and in controlled humidity.|
Did you ever notice the two shades on the monolith? The Washington Monument was built between 1848 and finished in 1884. The tower was completed in two stages and with stone from two different quarries because they stopped working on the monument during the Civil War and for lack of funds. The obelisk offers beautiful views of the city in excess of thirty miles.
I love the Washington Monument for the simplicity and grandiosity.It’s also impressive that they would attempt such a towering creation back then (1884) with none of the machinery we have nowadays!
|Thomas Jefferson Memorial: Construction started in 1939 and it was dedicated four years later, in 1943. After World War II restrictions on the use of metal was lifted, the plaster statue was replaced by a 19 ft tall statue in bronze and weighs 10,000 pounds, sculpted by Rudulph Evans. The best time to visit Washington, DC is the first week or second week of April because the Jefferson Memorial looks most brilliant in early spring when the Japanese cherry trees are in bloom. The trees were presented as a gift from the city of Tokyo to the city of Washington in 1912.|
|The Kennedy Center: The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, officially named the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, providing approximately 3,000 performances per year. The premier performing arts venue is located right along the Potomac River. The terrace view gives you a wonderful panoramic view of Georgetown, the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument. It’s a breath taking view.|
|Lincoln Memorial: Congress approved funding for the memorial in 1910 and construction began in 1914. The memorial itself was designed by Henry Bacon and included 36 columns each inscribed with the name of one of the 36 states that made up the United States of America at the time.|
|The Supreme Court: An interesting tidbit is that the Court and the Architect of the Capitol initially selected another site for the Supreme Court Building. The proposed location for the Court was directly south of the White House and very near the Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin.|
|U.S. Capitol Building: Often misunderstood to be the White House by first-time visitors to Washington, DC, the United States Capitol, or simply Capitol, is home of the United States Congress and its two legislative bodies, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. The U.S. Capitol Dome is made of 8,909,200 pounds of cast iron. There are 540 rooms divided among five levels, the U.S. Capitol is an impressive building. The newest extension to the Capitol is the Capitol Visitor Center that was built in 2008. Spread across 580,000 square feet.|
|Chesapeake and Ohio Canal: The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is 184.5 miles of adventure located along the north bank of the Potomac River, starting in Washington, DC and ending in Cumberland, MD. Originally, the C&O Canal was a lifeline for communities and businesses along the Potomac River as a means of transporting goods and crops. The canal transported well into the second decade of the twentieth century. Today, the canal’s towpath remains a favorite of joggers, hikers, and bicyclists. Before you begin on your journey, I recommend trying some shorter trips to prepare yourself.
Well there you have my personal Top 10 interesting spots to check out in Washington, DC. We hope to see you in DC soon! It is such a beautiful city to explore. Then you can share YOUR top spots to check out in Washington!
Photography by Ann Tran
* White House photo by WhiteHouse.gov